When you’re considering new knowledge management technology, one of the first things you should do is define your goals and objectives. Knowing where you’re going, what you need to achieve, and how you’ll get there delivers several benefits — including helping you identify potential software vendors and narrowing them down to a shortlist.
However, defining your organization’s goals and objectives for knowledge management technology can be more challenging than you might think, especially if your company has never invested in this kind of technology before.
But don’t worry: we’re making the process a little easier by giving you a step-by-step guide. Below, we’ll show you how to set clear and actionable goals and objectives for your knowledge management technology assessment.
Goals and Objectives: What’s the Difference?
Let’s start with a quick review of the definitions of goals and objectives. The differences can often be a source of confusion. Providing clear definitions will help put everyone on the same page.
Goals are intentions. In other words, they are outcomes you would like to work toward. For example, a goal would be: To facilitate the processes of knowledge transfer between individuals and organizations by proactively rewarding knowledge creation, transfer, and use.
Goals can be defined by the following basic characteristics:
- They emerge from what you know about your particular community.
- They are more specific than your corporate vision statement.
- They are different from objectives in that they are not connected to a timeline.
Objectives are concrete, specific, actionable steps your organization will take to reach your goals. In this case, they are related to the role of knowledge management itself, which is to connect the knowledge of subject matter experts to the workers who need it to do their jobs effectively.
Objectives include these characteristics:
- They have measurable, precise timetables for action.
- They state who will do what and when.
- They can be assigned to specific staff members or departments.
- They can be crossed off when finished.
As you start setting objectives, make sure you’re tying them to the SMART outline:
- Specific – Be clear about what needs to be done. Everyone involved should understand the suggested technology path and what they can do to help make it successful.
- Measureable – Establish specific measurement variables important to your organization to gauge success. For example, reducing the average amount of time employees spend looking for information each week, or achieving a defined rate of participation in a knowledge sharing platform, may be outcomes important to your company.
- Attainable – Are there sufficient resources, staff hours, and budgetary allotments available to achieve your goals and objectives? Be sure to accurately estimate the amount of staff resources required to achieve your stated goals.
- Relevant – Do the objectives support the goals and do the goals support your organization’s knowledge sharing mission?
- Time bound – When should the objectives be completed or measured?
4 Basic Steps for Creating Goals and Objectives
Now that we’ve gone over the differences between goals and objectives, let’s look at how you can set them for your knowledge management technology.
Use this outline to streamline your path as you evaluate knowledge management platforms. In the process, include representatives from every group that the new knowledge management technology will impact. Be sure to include content creators and content consumers, as well as leaders from the various departments that will be impacted. Every perspective will add important insight to your process and final decision.
The first step is to identify the current knowledge sharing issues your company is dealing with the problem areas that impact all relevant departments. Until you know what your problem areas are, you won’t be able to align technology solutions with your business goals and objectives.
One way you could conduct this analysis is by having employees take a survey about their current knowledge sharing practices. For example, you could ask them to use a 1 to 5 scale to rate statements such as:
- I always know where to find the resources I need to do my job.
- My team has to start from scratch every time we start a new project.
- It’s difficult to find out if anyone else has already done similar work.
You could also conduct interviews with employees to collect more qualitative data about knowledge sharing at your company. These interviews are a good opportunity to ask employees what they think is working well and what could be improved. This will help you identify resources that are worth investing in and processes that are worth refining.
2. Evaluate current content and usage.
Assess and document the variety and quantity of information your organization already has stored in databases and on the web, as well as the knowledge that specific employees possess through their personal experiences and knowledge. Note where each piece of information is stored and what format it currently exists in.
You should also look at how employees are using the knowledge you currently have available. If you have a knowledge sharing platform with built-in analytics, you can review those analytics to see what users are viewing, sharing, and commenting on most frequently. If you don’t have this type of platform in place, you may need to use surveys to gain a better understanding of information usage at your company.
As you evaluate information usage, ask yourself: Can I identify any bottlenecks in knowledge sharing? The answers will be necessary to help write clear goals and objectives and guide your outcome.
3. Look at the financial impact of knowledge management technology.
It’s tough to pin an exact dollar value to effective knowledge sharing. However, you can come up with an educated estimate, which will help you when evaluating new technology and processes.
Consider that a study from McKinsey found that effective knowledge sharing has the potential to raise productivity levels by 20 to 25 percent. If you have 200 employees at your company and the average salary is $55,000, improving productivity by 20 percent could lead to monthly savings of approximately $57,000.
Being able to tie an estimated monetary value to your knowledge sharing efforts will not only help you set concrete goals, but it will also help you justify a budget for certain technologies and resources.
4. Agree on specific and actionable goals and objectives.
To finalize your knowledge management technology goals and objectives, your team will need to come together to examine all options and determine the final results. Once you agree on a set of goals and objectives, you’ll need to track the metrics associated with the objectives to measure your progress. Tracking these knowledge sharing metrics will help you determine your return on investment so that you can validate the use of knowledge management technology.
While this first step on the road to choosing and launching a new knowledge management platform is demanding, the effort will be well worth it in the end. Knowing first what your goals and objectives are will ensure that you select the best possible vendors for consideration — and, in the end, choose the technology solution that is best-suited to your organization’s and employees’ needs.